Saturday, January 13, 2018

The Importance of Daily Spiritual Sadhana

Most people today realize the importance of taking out some time every day for physical workout. Even out of most hectic schedules, people manage to allocate some time every day for yoga, walks, or the gym. People today have become aware of the need for exercising the body. Given our sedentary lifestyles, if we don't set aside some time for physical workout, we will have to pay a heavy price in the form of diseases like obesity, diabetes, etc.

That is all about maintaining our physical health, but what about our mental and spiritual health? All day long, we spend time in the worldly environment where the world pulls us in love and hatred, hankering, lamentation, tension, anxiety, and stress. We seldom realize that the worldly environment gradually takes a toll on us and impacts our wellbeing. We must do something to keep our mind in good health. This is akin to the physical workout we do to maintain our body.

Therefore, you must do something on a daily basis to shut the world out, so that you have just one focus and that is to purify the mind. Now, how will the mind be purified? After all, to purify the mind, we must fix it on an object of meditation that is pure. But the material realm is dominated by the three modes of nature - sattva, rajas and tamas (goodness, passion and ignorance) and is hence impure. Therefore, if the object of meditation is from the material realm, it cannot purify the mind.

We will have to go beyond the material realm, in the divine realm of God - His Names, Forms, Virtues, Abodes, Pastimes, and Saints. If we fix our mind anywhere in this area, it will become pure. This is what Shree Krishna instructed Arjun in the Bhagavad Gita:

"I am divine. If you fix your mind on me, it will rise above the three modes of Maya."

If you take out time every day to fill your mind with thoughts of devotion, surrender, and love to God, it can be called your personal practice of spiritual sadhana. Just like by exercising for 1 hr in a day you reap the benefits of good health all through the day, similarly by practicing spiritual sadhana for some time in a day, you will reap the benefits of a spiritual consciousness throughout the day.

Shree Krishna also says in the Bhagavad Gita that we must do sadhana in isolation. Understand this through an example. If you take milk and put it in water, milk and water become one. But if you wish the milk to remain separate from water, you can convert it into yogurt and then churn it to extract butter. Once milk becomes butter it can challenge the water, "I will sit on your head and float, you cannot mix into me, as I am no longer milk." Similarly, separate from the world - away from television, people, etc., you can convert your mind into butter and then challenge the water, "you cannot do anything to me."

While doing spiritual sadhana, the position or asan does not really matter, however it is advised to keep your back erect so that you don't feel lazy. Sit in any comfortable position and take your mind away from the world and attach it to God. The focus will come with practice, but what is important is that we make this sadhana a part of our daily routine. We all appreciate the importance of doing daily spiritual sadhana, but the biggest challenge lies in putting it into practice.

Can we in the year 2018 resolve firmly to dedicate some time every day for spiritual sadhana?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

God resides in all creatures

   We assume that we are all alone and that nobody knows what we are thinking. A man thinks against his wife while sitting next to her because he is confident that she cannot read his thoughts. However, we forget a very important point. Our thoughts are never completely private.

 Sitting in our heart, God takes note of each and every thought and gives us the fruit of that thought. In our false confidence of privacy, we commit many offenses and throw away the benefits of the devotional practice. On one hand we cry and on the other hand, we commit many wrongful actions.

 It will take some amount of practice to remember that God is living inside us. Make it a habit to realize Him in your heart 24x7. 

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Advice for Daily Living

1. Always chant 'Radhey' with every breath and visualize the divine form of God and Guru.

2. Do not speak unnecessarily or listen to senseless conversations. You have engaged in meaningless conversations in countless past lives. Now you should save your energy and channel it towards fulfilling the ultimate aim of life.

3. Do not have any ill feelings towards those who speak ill of you. Keep in mind that you are not perfect. If someone points out one of your mistakes, why feel unhappy or angry? After all, he is speaking the truth.

4. Eat simple food, not spicy. One quarter of the stomach should remain empty after the meal. Meat, Eggs, alcohol and tobacco are completely forbidden for devotees.

5. Do not sleep more than 5-6 hours. Make use of every waking minute in devotion to God.

6. Keep your surroundings clean.

7. Spend ten minutes every night reflecting on the mistakes you made during the day. Then be determined to not make the same mistakes again.

8. Serve your Guru, accepting God and Guru to be one and same.

9. Your mind is your biggest enemy. Do not listen to it. Always follow the path as directed by your Guru.

10. If any of the above rules are broken, ask for forgiveness from God and Guru and shed tears of repentance. Remember not to repeat the mistake in the future.   

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Working for the pleasure of God

Hobbies are things we do passionately in our free time for fun. People of all ages have their favorite hobbies that they like to invest their time in because it gives them happiness, relaxation and an opportunity to learn. Considering how much we enjoy engaging in our hobbies, is there a way we can make them a part of our spiritual growth?

Shree Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita said:

          यत्करोषि यदश्नासि यज्जुहोषि ददासि यत् |
             यत्तपस्यसि कौन्तेय तत्कुरुष्व मदर्पणम् || 27||

 "Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer as oblation to the sacred fire, whatever you bestow as a gift, and whatever austerities you perform, O son of Kunti, do them as an offering to me." (Bhagavad Gita 9.27)

This implies that whatever activity we perform, we should mentally offer it to God. Now, whenever we perform any activity there are 2 aspects to it:

 1) The external activity we do.
 2) Our internal attitude towards it. 

We could perform the same mundane activity with different consciousness and that makes all the difference. If an activity is performed by a worldly-minded person to increase his own comfort, wealth or fame, he gets bound by both good and bad karmic reactions. His karmic reactions result in his continuity in the cycle of life and death. Whereas, if a spiritually minded person performs the same activity for the pleasure of his beloved Lord, he renounces selfishness. Thus he is freed from the fretters of good and bad results.

A person who dedicates all his actions in the service to God becomes united in consciousness with God. Such a yogi becomes liberated in consciousness even in this body. And, upon leaving his mortal frame, receives a divine body and eternal service in the divine abode of God.

Thus by simply changing our internal attitude toward everything we do, we can reap great spiritual benefits. By transforming our internal attitude, we can transform even the mundane activities of material life into divine service of God. Therefore, let's take a step towards this transformation by dedicating all our hobbies to God. Earlier we engaged in our hobbies because it made us happy; now let us do them so that we can make the Lord happy.

Friday, October 6, 2017

It's time you take charge of your Destiny!

It is true that we are born with a destiny but is it correct to say that everything that happens in our life is governed by destiny? If we think that destiny cannot be changed that is the doctrine of fatalism. It leads to an attitude of resignation and passivity that results from the belief that people are helpless against fate.

Let us assume that everything is predestined. Then it must mean that in our past countless lives we did not perform actions by our free will as everything was predestined. But then what determined our destiny in the present life? Logically we must have performed actions with our free will in some past life. If we did so in a past life, we can do them now as well.

We humans are bound by the law of karma, but understand the principle of free will through the example of the bow and arrow in archery. The accumulated stock of arrows in the archer's case slung over his shoulder is the sañchit karma. Similar to this is our stock of karmas from past endless lifetimes. A part of the sañchit karma, is the prārabdh karma that we have to bear in this life. Therefore the arrow that has just left the archer's bow is the prārabdh karma and the arrow in the hand at the moment is kriyamāṇ karma, this is the karma we are free to perform in this life. The archer can decide not to use this arrow, or he can choose to use it either to protect the weak or to harass them. Thus while prārabdh karma is something which cannot be undone and we have to enjoy or suffer its fruits in this life, we have free will available in the form of kriyamāṇ karma. 

Right here in the present moment you possess the free will to perform actions that elevate your consciousness to sublime heights or perform actions that degrade you to demonic existence. The choices that you make in the face of adversity or favorable situations are your own. For this reason, the scriptures say that it is lazy people who blame destiny for their substandard achievements:

Ramayana says - ''While working, don't bring destiny into your mind, or it will make you lazy." If you do, you will start running to astrologers to know what your destiny is, rather than focusing on performing your work properly.

It is a fact that there is an element of destiny. But that should not bother you because God has also bestowed the power of free will to you. You possess the freedom to act as you wish. If you were destined to win a jackpot of a million dollars, you will win it. But beyond that, it is your self-effort. If you work hard, you could multiply it into ten million dollars, and if you develop profligate habits, you could squander it away in drinking and gambling. That would not be decided by destiny; that would be your own puruśhārth or self-effort.

Always remember these words of an Urdu poet,

खुदी को कर बुलंद इतना कि हर तक़दीर से पहले,
खुदा खुद बन्दे से पूछे बता तेरी रज़ा क्या हैं। 

"Make your efforts so strong, that before giving you the results of your destiny, God himself asks you what you want."

Next Blog Article:- Carelessness leads to Downfall of a Devotee!

Monday, September 18, 2017

What determines the Destiny!

 The sheer mystery of how future events unfold intrigues everyone. It is this anxiousness to determine the pattern of future events that drives us to face readers, tarot card readers and palmists. These astrologers reveal the glimpses of our destiny, the things that we will experience in the future.

Now let's say someone hit a jackpot and become an overnight millionaire while someone else lost all his fortune in a stock market crash. In ordinary life, we will attribute both these differing events to destiny. But then the primary question arises if people are destined to experience such events in life, who decides the course of our destiny?

People are of different opinions, some believe that destiny is thrust upon us by an inscrutable power; others believe destiny is a result of our past karmas, while many others believe that destiny is a fallacy of the human mind. Let us understand the concept of destiny through the help of Scriptures. The Hitopdesh states in this context:

"The actions we performed in our past lives become our destiny in this life."

This clearly means that destiny is not something that has come down from the heavens or a horoscope chart that is revealed to us by the astrologers. We have created our destiny ourselves by actions in past births. It is the 'Law of Karma' that determines our destiny in the present life. The law of Karma however is quite complex.

To start with there are three kinds of karmas: sañchit, prārabdh and kriyamāṇ. God has an account of all our karmas in endless lives. This is called sañchit karmas. At the time of birth, we are given a portion of our sañchit karmas, to enjoy or suffer in this life. This is called prārabdh karmas. The prārabdh is fixed, but within this life, we have a freedom to act, and the actions we perform are called kriyamāṇ karma. The kriyamāṇ is not pre-determined; it is in our hands and can be changed as we wish.

Now the results we get in life are dependent on a number of factors, including: 
1. Our prārabdh karmas.
2. Our kriyamāṇ karmas. 
3. The Will of God. 
4. The karma of other people present in that situation. 
5. Chance events in which we happen to be present by accident.

Since we humans are not all-knowing, we cannot fully correlate the results we get with the exact causes behind them. We ignorantly take a myopic view of the results of our present karma and feel bogged down. For example, we notice sometimes that a good person fails and an unscrupulous person prospers. It seems that the law of karma or destiny is not fair and just to humans. But the fact is that the law of karma keeps an account of our past endless lifetimes. Therefore, the good person was not always good; the bad person was not always bad.

"Life is like playing a game of cards. The hand that is dealt to you gets fixed, that is your destiny. But how you play with the cards is not fixed, that's your self-effort."

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Importance and Specialty of the Kirtans written by Shree Maharajji.

Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj

  Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj has written thousands of inspiring verses revealing the Divine pastimes of Radha Krishna. His style of writing is unique in the entire history of saints. First, he begins the chanting of a pada or kīrtan, and as the kīrtan progresses, he keeps adding lines to it, finally bringing it to a consummate close. In glorification of Shree Radha Krishna devotion, he has named one of his principal creations as "Prem Ras Madirā," or "Divine Love Intoxicant." One is lost for words to describe the intensity and greatness of the padas and kīrtans written by Shree Maharajji. It is only by singing the divinely intoxicating kīrtans that we can get a glimpse of the unfathomable Divine love that pours out from the heart of a true devotee of Shree Radha Krishna. 

  The kīrtans conducted by Shree Maharajji are famous for the fervent intensity of devotion that they create in the minds and hearts of the sincere follower, forever binding him or her to the path of God-realization. Whenever Shree Maharajji graces the prayer and Sādhanā hall, the kīrtans reach a feverish pitch as the Lord's names and pastimes are sung in unison by ecstatic voices across the floor. These highly charged kīrtans mesmerize even the most phlegmatic of people, drawing them ever closer to Shree Radha Krishna.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Let us remember what our Guru has taught us?

Jagadguru Shri Kripaluji Maharaj

He himself had taught us to practice the presence of God and Guru with us at all times. In concurrence with his teachings, let us remain steadfast in the conviction that, although we cannot see him with our material eyes, he continues to stay in our midst, noting our every thought and action, and showering his grace as we strive to walk the path he revealed to us. 

     We should strongly reaffirm our resolve to implement his every Instruction for purifying our hearts and for pushing forward his mission. This is the most befitting way of showing our respect to him

     What they have given to humankind during their stay in our world can never be sufficiently eulogized in words; the whole planet shall remain indebted to them for their gift of Love. We offer our respectful obeisances unto our Spiritual Master Jagadguru Shri Kripaluji Maharaj, who has opened our eyes, which were blinded by the darkness of ignorance, with the torchlight of knowledge.

Happy Guru Poornima!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Is there some way of knowing how far we have succeeded in our Spiritual Journey?

It is not easy to judge, only God and our Guru can truly know how much we have advanced. However, a simple parameter, which can give us some idea, is to see how much our mind has gotten detached from the world and the extent to which it has gotten attached to God. This is a simple rule of thumb to measure our advancement.

Do a reading of yourself. When you suffer reversals in the world, how upset do you become? If you find that earlier, you would keep brooding when someone insulted you, but now you are able to forget it in an hour's time, then you can conclude that you are progressing; your mind is becoming detached from the world, and your spiritual power is increasing; hence, you are able to remain normal in any circumstances.

Again, analyze how much does your mind yearn for a spiritual association. If earlier, whenever you had free time, you wished to spend it in seeing movies, but now you seek opportunities to sing devotional kirtans, it is a sure sign that you are progressing and that your mind is getting attached to the spiritual realm.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

How to get peace of mind when someone has wronged us to no end?

This material world is like the prison house of God; souls who have turned their backs towards him have been put here.  So, we cannot expect the people of this world to behave like Saints. There will always be persons who will come to cheat us, and on some occasions, they may even succeed.  That is life; we all get cheated once in a while.  But the important thing is to learn to take it in our stride.  That is where the quality of forgiveness comes in.
If we continue to harbor resentment towards those who have wronged us, we will be unable to progress spiritually. Resentment acts like a poison on the mind, filling it with bitterness. And we keep reliving the sour experience within, pinned down to the past. Someone aptly said: "Resentment is like taking poison and waiting for the other person to die."     
On the spiritual path, we must be careful not to nurture ill feelings towards anyone, realizing that they will harm us more than anyone else.  Jagadguru Shree Kripaluji Maharaj says:
भूलिहुँ दुर्भावना कहुँ, हो न सपनेहुँ प्यारे।  (साधना करू प्यारे )
"Even in your dreams, do not make the mistake of harboring ill-will towards anyone."   
Forgiveness is a sublime personality trait that immediately releases all bitterness from the mind. It is a favor we do, not to the other person, but to ourselves. The lives of saintly people are full of inspiring stories of how they forgave their wrongdoers, and even succeeded in winning them over by their love.  
A person made an attempt on the life of Mahatma Gandhi, while he was living in South Africa. Mahatma Gandhi refused to hate the man. He said, "I shall love him, and win his love." One year later, that same man came and apologized to before Mahatma Gandhi, and wept for forgiveness. This is the characteristic of great personalities; they refuse to allow their minds to dwell on hatred towards anyone. 

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